By HTP Editorial
Alli Watt is Executive Director of Breaking Silence, a nonprofit organization that partners with survivors of interpersonal violence, advocacy centers and volunteers to give voice, healing and empowerment to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. “Stories of Survival” is an interactive exhibit created by Breaking Silence, which offers participants an opportunity to hear survivor stories in a way that both raises awareness and, hopefully, compels us to action.
“By using the stories of those who have been impacted by interpersonal violence, Breaking Silence is able to present their stories in an individual and powerful way. Each participant is provided with an audio player and is invited to listen to the story of a survivor while walking through the setting that brings certain aspects of their experience to life. By recreating the familiar worlds of a dorm room, a kitchen, or a family room the imagery that is painted in ones mind allows for the establishment of active empathy that empowers participants to end our current culture of abuse.”
Alli Watt is an educator and advocate for the recovery of victims of interpersonal violence, for promoting empathy and responsibility from the culture at large, and for the empowerment that comes with sharing our experiences with each other.
Q & A
How has your background in education led you to becoming an advocate for survivors of interpersonal violence?
My background in education allowed me to understand different learning styles and how we can develop empathy through learning. I was a history education major, so part of my job was to come up with ways to get students to feel history and walk through people’s experiences. That combined with my own past as a survivor is what led me to becoming an advocate. I became a trained advocate at the age of 19 for the Colorado State University Victim’s Assistance Team and knew from that moment on that I wanted to give survivors a voice and help create avenues where they could share their story.
Breaking Silence focuses on the telling of stories. Why is this an effective way to promote positive change?
What are some societal factors that contribute to interpersonal violence?
What is one thing about interpersonal violence that we may not know that we should know?
Interpersonal violence impacts 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. These crimes often make survivors lose their sense of self, create trauma responses that can lead to depression and PTSD, and have other lifelong effects. The damage of having someone you love and trust violate that in such a violent and manipulative way leaves many feeling helpless, lost, and unwanted. In order to help those overcome the pain of abuse, we must create a society where survivors are supported, believed, and lifted up so that healing and thriving is possible.
How can people see the “Stories of Survival” exhibit?
The exhibit is one that travels around from university to university. We are usually in a location for about a week and those times vary depending on the schedule of the campus. Our events page at www.breakingsilenceco.org/events is current and lets you know where we will be next.
The Hidden Tears Project is a media company that looks to promote social justice through raising awareness about gender inequality, sexual assault and human trafficking. Do you think media is making headway in this regard, and what can we all do better?